We preview the first semi-final of the 2017/18 Ram Slam T20 Challenge which will see the Multiply Titans take on the Warriors at SuperSport Park Centurion.
The Warriors’ prize for sneaking into the semi-finals of the Ram Slam T20 Challenge is a floodlit date against the Multiply Titans at SuperSport Centurion.
The Titans – despite losing each of their last two matches – are still overwhelming favourites to win this competition and should be too strong for the Port Elizabeth franchise. Let’s take a look:
Titans vs Warriors | Wednesday 13 December | SuperSport Park Centurion | 18:00
To Win Match
Titans 34/100 | Tie 35/1 | Warriors 9/4
The Titans just appear to have started wobbling at the business end of the season. A Protea-packed side lost out against the Cobras with the penultimate ball of the game in a three-wicket loss on Friday. They then travelled to Durban two days later with a fringe side only to be completely and utterly outplayed in an 89-run defeat.
You really can’t read too much into Sunday’s loss with a number of youngsters and squad players being given a run with a home semi-final already secured. As it turned out, the likes of Tony de Zorzi, Rivaldo Moonsamy, Jonathan Vandiar and Shaun von Berg all battled against a Hollywoodbets Dolphins side who had it all to play for on an overcast afternoon at Kingsmead.
Looking ahead, Tabraiz Shamsi will be key to their chances this Wednesday, the wrist-spinner has been in sublime form – wicket-taking celebrations aside – this season and currently tops the wicket charts along with Dane Paterson on 12.
He’ll no doubt want the Warriors’ top order softened up by the best seam attack in the competition with Dale Steyn, Lungi Ngidi, Morne Morkel, Malusi Siboto and Junior Dala. You can’t play them all, however, and I don’t see Boucher leaving out Ngidi, Steyn and Siboto. That of course means decisions will have to be made between Dala and Morkel, and I doubt very much that the latter gets into the side after having played just one game this season.
Lastly, can you really see the likes of Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, AB de Villiers, Farhaan Behardien and Albie Morkel failing to contribute to a massive Titans’ total at fortress Centurion? I most certainly don’t.
The Warriors sneaked into the semi-finals through the back door thanks largely to a Wanderers washout that effectively eliminated the bizhub Highveld Lions. Still, they had to work hard in order to beat the Cobras on Sunday in East London.
Jon Jon Smuts appears to have hit form at just the right time with 69* on Friday against the Lions before following that up with a typically belligerent 48 against Cobras on Sunday evening. He was assisted by Colin Ingram and Christiaan Jonker – both of whom have also just started to find their feet at the business end of the season – who helped push their total to 168-5 after their 20 overs.
It was always going to be difficult for the Cobras to chase such a competitive score in tricky batting conditions at Buffalo Park. Still, the Warriors Bowlers – with the exception of Basheeru-Deen Walters – were magnificent, as they’ve been all season. They will need to repeat the trick against a stacked Titans’ top order, with the performance of Andrew Birch likely to be key.
Everything appears to have clicked for the Eastern Cape franchise at the right time of the season. Having said that, it will take an almighty performance to beat a Titans side who have easily outgunned them on two occasions this season. One feels that Smuts and his charges have done well to get here, but this is where their journey likely ends.
Verdict: Multiply Titans 34/100
While the Titans may have been convincingly beaten at the weekend by the Hollywoodbets Dolphins, you can’t read much into the result. They’ll be back to full strength against a Warriors side who are perhaps lucky to be in the competition at this stage after the Lions’ match with the Knights was rained out. The home side should cruise through this fixture at 34/100.